What it Really Means to be Gay

Let’s get uncharacteristically serious for a second, here…

It was really hot last week.  I mean hot – like 95 degrees with humidity and no air conditioning-hot.  Usually when that happens, I have to leave the front door open to prevent the entire family from dying of dehydration; this time it was a necessity for most of the day and night.  On the third day, a group of punk ass kids were walking by outside and I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation, which was riddled with the term “that’s GAY.”  This annoyed me, because I’m almost certain that they were not referring to things that were actually gay.  So I thought it would be good if we established for everyone what it really means to be gay, once and for all.

(This might seem a bit simplistic for our usual discussions, but it is clear that this conversation needs to be spelled out as simply as possible.)  There are a few possible definitions of the term “gay.”

#1 Gay:  happy, a state of overjoy.  This is the more archaic way of referring to someone that is happy.  I remember when I was about six I kept asking my mom what it meant to be “gay” and she said “happy” so for a few days I walked around saying “I am feeling very gay today!”  Most people giggled, but the older folks were glad I was so happy.  There is nothing wrong with saying you feel gay if you mean you are in a great mood.

#2 Gay:  homosexual, or identifying with a group of people who prefer the sexual orientation of the same sex as their own.  In the “gay community,” there are many different factions:  lesbians, bisexuals, homosexual males, transexuals, etc., etc.  Sometimes when you say “gay” in the “gay community” you are referring to the man-et-man faction; other times you will hear lesbians and bisexuals saying they too are gay.  There is nothing wrong with saying you are gay if you mean you prefer the sexual orientation of the same sex as your own.

There are a number of things that the term “gay” does not refer to:

The term “gay” does not mean something is bad or stupid or unfortunate.  This is a direct negation of the first definition, which was “happy, a state of overjoy.”  Would you be happy and in a state of overjoy if you were in the presence of something bad or stupid or unfortunate?  I think not.

The term “gay” does not mean something is morally wrong.  No matter what your moral standard, “gay” does not mean something that is morally wrong.  If you mean overjoyed, there is certainly nothing wrong with that feeling.  Further, there is nothing wrong with being “gay,” as in homosexual, from a moral perspective.  Let me elaborate:  if you use religion as your moral standard, you cannot say there is anything morally wrong with being gay – unless you are so literal as to your interpretation of the Bible that you abstain from the entire list of things that are considered wrong.  This is including (but not limited to) driving on Sundays and eating shellfish on any days.  Do you drive to church?  Then you are not a literalist and you cannot apply your loose Biblical standards so fickly.  Every person that I explain this to goes on, then, to say that being gay, as in homosexual, is morally wrong because it is unnatural for a man to have intercourse with another man.  To that, I ask:  why?  Why is it unnatural?  Is it natural for women to give hummers to their boyfriends?  Is it natural for men to watch shark porn?  A personal preference in the bedroom is no more unnatural than preferring to add salt instead of sugar to your apple pie.

And while we’re at it, there is no such thing as “gay marriage.”  There is marriage, there is gay (happy), and there is gay (homosexual) – and I’m very sure that there are gay (homosexual) people that are married and gay (happy).  But there is no more a thing as “gay marriage” as there is “straight marriage.”  There is marriage, which is a spiritual, as well as legal and financial, union between two people.  Not a single person or law has a right to mandate who those two people can be – whether they are of the same sex or not.

Generally, when people try to use the term “gay” in a pejorative way, they do so because they think that underhandedly establishes a precedent for saying that gay people are bad.  All this does is make them sound ignorant, though.  How stupid do those punk ass kids walking outside sound when they say something is “gay” when we have established that “gay” either means happy or homosexual, and that there is nothing wrong with either one of those things?  “Dude, that shirt is so gay.”  Why thank you!  I thought it was happy-looking, I’m glad to hear you are overjoyed at the sight of it!  “Mrs. Steiner is so gay!”  I’m sure Mr. Steiner is not a woman, but if he were – what is your point?  To the punk ass kids walking by, and anyone else that believes “gay” means anything other than what we have established, shut the hell up.  All you are doing is making yourself sound even stupider and ignorant than you already are.  One day this whole “gay thing” will go down in history books as another blunder on the part of ignorant America, like segregation and racism against African Americans was.  Do you want to be lumped in with those ignorant hillbillies that were too stupid to read a dictionary?

A Miserable Marriage

Today on Facebook, one of my friends posted a question “what is the key to a successful marriage?”  People were posting all manner of things:  honesty, communication, devotion, sex, similar interests … all of them relevant, timely remarks that logically seem to help in making a successful marriage.  But something about it didn’t really seem to hit right on the mark for me.

My comment was a little off the beaten path of the rest of the comments (big surprise, I know..).  Nonetheless, I think mine was the most accurate, which was:  reconcile yourself to misery.

This idea came to me after I thought about a popular quote about marriage:  “I can’t have what I want and be happy; you can’t have what you want and be happy; let’s compromise on misery.”  This is intended on being funny; that in a marriage neither person can have exactly the way they want things to be; each has to give a little to get a little.  The idea isn’t that we are actually going to settle on being miserable because we both can’t have exactly what we want, though.  In reality it just pokes fun at the idea that anything other than the exact way we want things to be is absolute misery.  The truth is it’s not.  Not having exactly what you want isn’t misery, it’s just not exactly what you want.  The beauty in compromise is that it is not a complete annihilation of one side in favor of the other, but rather a synthesis of the two in which there is an element of each side’s happiness present.  In reality, a compromise can be seen as the happiest of all possibilities, for it is the best of both worlds.

I think this reflects a current problem we seem to have found ourselves in, which is that we seem to think that we are going to find a life-partner that is exactly the same as we are, thus there will never even be a need to compromise.  We think that there even can be a person exactly like us out there, and that when we marry them everything will be pie in the sky and ear-to-ear smiles.  I can’t even count the number of couples I know that seem to think they will always agree on everything, and that if they don’t that may as well be the end of their civil or religious union.  This seems to be a wholly naive and childish way of viewing the world:  that there are two people who actually are so alike they will never disagree and need to find a middle-ground on which to compromise is (in reality) just plain stupid.

So what is the key to a successful marriage, you ask?  Why, it’s reconciling yourself to misery!  In other words, it is going in to a marriage realistic about the fact that no matter how compatible eHarmony said you were; no matter how much you seemed to have in common on those initial dates – there is going to come a time that you and your life-partner do not agree on something (and believe you me, it will be a big something).  Recognize that now, because it will happen.  No matter what you do; no matter how you try to avoid it – it will happen.  One day down the line, you will be asked to compromise (in most cases, many days and countless times down the line).  The key to a successful marriage is knowing that one day the need to give a little to get a little will be upon you.  Denying this is a way to make your marriage fail, because you will be destined to think that there is no way to reconcile something that you thought was supposed to be perfect.  In reality, nothing is perfect – marriage included.  Reconcile yourself to the compromise on misery, which really won’t be miserable if you just give it a try.